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Powered Flight During the 1970s Was More Than Just Awesome

This NASA Film Portrays the Dizzying Variety of Flying Machines Plying 70s Skies

Boeing 747-100. Image via Boeing

The film “Flying Machines- Powered Flight in the 1970s” was produced for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the days when the airlines were booming and research and development were investigating amazing new technologies. The piece features everything from classic airliners and general aviation aircraft to military jets and experimental types- some of which survived the decade and some of which did not. Released in 1978, the film was uploaded to YouTube by Classic Airliners & Vintage Pop Culture.

Narrated by the late pilot and film actor Cliff Robertson, there is footage of a reenactment of the Wright Brothers at Kitty Hawk interspersed with footage of airliners, aerobatic teams, gliders, helicopters, military jets, the Concorde, and much more. NASA aircraft are featured along with footage of the Farnborough Air Show and materials like carbon fiber and titanium undergoing testing.

Late 1970s NASA research aircraft. Image via NASA

You’ll see the Boeing YC-15 transport prototype, General Dynamics F-16 Fighting Falcon wind tunnel testing (that’s a wicked shimmy you’ve got there!), winglets and their benefits as foretold before their widespread adoption, the Bell X-14 NASA vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) research aircraft, Vought A-7 Corsair II spin testing, general aviation crashworthiness testing, NASA Northrop T-38 Talon, Lockheed C-141 Starlifter, and Space Shuttle footage also appears in the film.

Concorde on approach. Image by Arpingstone via Wikipedia Commons public domain.

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Bill Walton

Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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